A Review of Calling: Phuket!

Calling: Phuket

Greetings and salutations once again my fabulous #fab folks! Welcome to the latest installment in our tournament coverage review series here on FABREC! I’m Donnie K, aka some random #fabdad, and today we’re looking at a few of the featured games from Calling: Phuket.

The excitement and energy from Pro Tour: Los Angeles is still hanging thick in the air around competitive FAB, but the more Flesh and Blood we get to see the better, in my opinion. Let’s get to it!

Brawling At the Beach!

Calling: Phuket took place on one of Thailand’s most popular islands for tourists and only a stone’s throw from the nearest beach. When the crew at Savage Feats weren’t enjoying drinks in the sun and sand, they were making our favorite game look good once again on the official Flesh and Blood YouTube Channel. It’s hard to imagine, but it feels like every time Savage Feats runs coverage on an event, it’s smoother and cleaner than the last. Ethan “Man Sant” continues to raise the bar for us every time he gets behind the camera, and I know I’m not alone in my appreciation for his work.

Sam O’Byrne, Elliot Tan, and Pankaj Bhojwani were the faces on camera for the weekend and they did not disappoint either. We’ve seen each of these casters before and, as usual, their passion bled through the camera in every round of Calling: Phuket. Competitive Flesh and Blood has become my favorite spectator sport and it’s thanks to casters and coverage like this.

Now, let’s get to why you’re here, shall we?

The Numbers We Always Want to Know…

Recently on Twitter, I interacted with someone who contributes to the Live Blogs that run throughout Tier 3 events. I owe Logan Bolam (@lmbolam) and the rest of the live blog team a shout out and a thank you for providing the numbers you see in each of these articles.

Day One (Seven Rounds Classic Constructed)

There were 206 players from across the globe who came together in the flesh and blood to play great games in Phuket. The top five heroes were pretty similar to the lineup we saw at PTLA with Kayo, Armed and Dangerous (31) and Dromai, Ash Artist (29) leading the pack. There were 19 different heroes at the event, but Victor Goldmane, High and Mighty (26), Dorinthea Ironsong (24), and Azalea, Ace in the Hole (14) followed the two top dogs as most represented.

Day Two (Four Rounds Classic Constructed)

Only 48 players survived the cut from Day One to Day Two, and of those, only two heroes had maintained a perfect record through the first seven rounds. Azalea, Ace in the Hole and Prism, Awakener of Sol stood undefeated at the top of the leaderboard with seven wins each. Only 11 heroes total survived the cut to Day Two and four out of five of the Day One highest represented heroes remained in their top spots. Azalea yielded her position to Dash, Inventor Extraordinaire as fifth most represented on Day Two and there were slightly more Doris than Victors, but the faces were the same.

Top 8 Cut

After 11 rounds of Classic Constructed carnage, seven different heroes were represented in the elimination rounds of Calling: Phuket. At the start of Day Two, only two Prisms remained in the event and both managed to make it all the way to playoffs, with one staying undefeated through all 11 rounds of Swiss.

Their competition? Dorinthea Ironsong, Uzuri, Switchblade, Azalea, Ace in the Hole, Dromai, Ash Artist, Katsu, the Wanderer, and Kayo, Armed and Dangerous.

  1. 11-0 “Vespa” Chujitngamsuwong (Thailand) (Prism, Awakener of Sol)
  2. 9-2 Chu Heng Eng (Singapore) (Kayo, Armed and Dangerous)
  3. 9-2 Derk Hua Lee (Malaysia) (Dromai, Ash Artist)
  4. 9-2 Josiah Cheah (Malaysia) (Uzuri, Switchblade)
  5. 9-2 Brodie Spurlock (America) (Azalea, Ace in the Hole)
  6. 9-2 Pudding Tam (Hong Kong) (Katsu, the Wanderer)
  7. 8-3 Chanon Puttaree (Thailand) (Prism, Awakener of Sol)
  8. 8-3 CYK Lionel (Taiwan) (Dorinthea Ironsong)

(Again, credit to the live blog for this handy breakdown.)

Feature Match Highlights

We’ll keep it short and sweet here once again and focus on two games from each day, in addition to the Top 8 featured matches. Because of the time difference, I slept through most of the Calling and had to watch these games after the day had ended. I’d suggest you do so as well.

Day One

Round Four – CC Fung (Victor Goldmane, High and Mighty) vs Brandon Peh (Ser Boltyn, Breaker of Dawn)

As the casters said, this was a very aggressive game from both heroes. CC Fung and Victor faced off against Brandon Peh with Ser Boltyn in the fourth round of Calling: Phuket. Boltyn was trying to go nuclear with Cintari Saber and Hot Streak, but Fung/Victor was having none of that nonsense. Victor threw mighty blow after mighty blow and never let up the pressure. Brandon eventually had to go for the combo with only one Lumina Ascension in hand, but it wasn’t enough. The next Lumina Ascension a few turns later did functionally nothing and Victor just kept throwing haymakers until Ser Boltyn laid at his feet, defeated.

Round Five – Hermann Yeo (Vynnset, Iron Maiden) vs Soh Zheng (Kayo, Armed and Dangerous)

When Dusk till Dawn was released, I had the pleasure of sharing my enthusiasm for Vynnset, Iron Maiden in our set reviews. I love this hero. I don’t know if I’m brave enough to bring her to a Calling like Hermann Yeo did, though. The Maiden seemed to be doing alright for Hermann, as they met Soh Zheng and Kayo, Armed and Dangerous in Round Five. Each player had a 3-1 record going into this game, so a second early loss could spell doom for their hopes of making the final cut on Day Two.

Vynnset started out strong with an early Deathly Wail turn keeping plenty of Rune Chants rolling, but there’s a reason why Kayo is popular. The numbers are just absurd. Soh had a massive turn, starting with five Might tokens popping and a Bloodrush Bellow boosting Kayo’s good arm up to 10 power with go again. Having thrown that out, Kayo rolled the dice on Scabskin Leathers, gaining an extra action point to play out a second Cast Bones, hitting on all six reveals. And then (why not?), a Bare Fangs for 10 to end the turn. Yikes. I’ve heard that presenting 20 and setting up another plus six with go again for the next turn is a good way to establish tempo.

Surprisingly, Hermann and Vynnset managed to grind the game down and looked like they may be capable of surviving the onslaught. Soh rolling a six on Scabs during a double Bloodrush turn later was enough to see Kayo move on to 4-1 in the end, though. Brutes gonna Brute. #brutelife

Day Two

Round Nine – Josiah Cheah (Uzuri, Switchblade) vs Jian Wei Tee (Azalea, Ace in the Hole)

At a 7-1 record, both of these players were in range of clinching their position in the Top 8. Josiah Cheah on Uzuri, Switchblade faced off against Jian Wei Tee and Azalea, Ace in the Hole. From my experience, this can be a tough match for Uzuri to win if they’re more red line. The dominated arrows from Azalea can make trading effectively a difficult task.

Things started slow. Both players spent the early turns checking each other with reactions and on hits. Jian did a great job of playing without an arsenal most of the game, not allowing Josiah to get any value from their arsenal hate. By sacrificing Blacktek Whisperers free action point, Josiah was able to buy them back later with Silver and the extra point of block made a huge difference in the end game. However, Jian drawing mostly red cards for several turns made a bigger difference as Uzuri chipped away at the Ranger. Eventually, with only seconds left on the round timer, Azalea was on her last life point and Uzuri had a dagger and Flick Knives open with an attack to send. The dagger flew, and Josiah claimed the win.

Round Eleven – Pudding Tam (Katsu, the Wanderer) vs Channon Puttaree (Prism, Awakener of Sol)

I woke up randomly around 2:30am EST and saw the last few turns of this game. After that, I knew I was going to be highlighting it in this article. It wasn’t quite the Sigil from PTLA, but it was still pretty cool to watch. (I particularly enjoyed it thanks to Sam and Pankaj’s narrative on the final turn.)

Channon Puttaree and Prism started hot and heavy, pitching a Light of Sol immediately and setting up an angel on turn zero after dealing Pudding Tam/Katsu five damage. Fortunately for Pudding, the angel popped at the end of a Harmonized Kodachi on his turn and he started the game with a full graveyard and natural combo. Channon opted to use one of Prism’s subtle tricks to turn Bonds of Ancestry face-down in the banish zone and saved eight life on Pudding’s return volley.

Tempo shifted nearly every turn and it looked likely to go either way all the way to the end. Pudding perfectly bluffed an Art of War and Channon committed a Soul Shield to block the Surging Strike on the final turn. That left only two cards in Prism’s hand, one of which was a no-block: Arc Light Sentinel. Whelming Gustwave followed Surging, drawing a card and triggering Katsu’s tutor ability for Pudding, who chose Mugenshi: RELEASE as the follow up. Mugenshi hit and Pudding fetched three Lord of Wind, smashing through Channon’s final no-block for lethal damage to secure his place in the elimination rounds.

Top 8

Quarterfinals – Derk Hua Lee (Dromai, Ash Artist) vs Pudding Tam (Katsu, the Wanderer)

To the disappointment of a large portion of viewers, Derk Hua Lee on Dromai was paired into the Ninja, Pudding Tam/Katsu in the first round of the quarterfinals. With Dromai within sneezing distance of ascending to Living Legend, a lot of players were hoping to see her win the event and move on before Pro Quest season starts. Pudding was probably pretty happy, on the other hand. Ninjas have traditionally had a very good matchup into Dromai’s dragons. That doesn’t mean Derk went down without a fight. The redline Dromai list can put out a lot of pressure, and can sometimes high roll the Ninja match up. No high rolls this time though. Unless you count the Dishonor….

On turn three, Derk blocked a “live” Dishonor for six, respecting the Breaking Scales, but Pudding had an Ancestral Empowerment AND an Art of War to give it +3 total with Scales. Dromai lost her hero power and faced a serious uphill battle for the rest of the game. With extremely limited Ash generation left and only able to swing one Dragon per turn (if he could even create them), Derk did his best. However, the fury of the Wanderer would not be stopped here, and Pudding moved on to the semifinals.

Semifinals – T. C. “Vespa” (Prism, Awakener of Sol) vs Brodie Spurlock (Azalea, Ace in the Hole)

This game caused some enthusiastic mumbling and grumbling in chat. This isn’t the first time I’ve had the opportunity to summarize one of Brodie Spurlock’s Top 8 games and if you’ve watched live coverage for an event he’s topped, you already know what the issue was. Frankly, it’s almost a meme at this point. Additionally, there was a judge call in the middle of the game that brought the “action” to a complete stop for a while, but we did get to the end game eventually.

Vespa and Prism came to the quarterfinals completely undefeated. A perfect 11 wins through the Swiss meant they were looking good to complete the “golden run” as the casters called it. Brodie brought Azalea to battle once again, showing off his latest brew with the Ranger. Brodie managed to keep most of the tempo early thanks to Bolt'n' Shot allowing Azalea to present multiple attacks. After the judge call resolved, tempo switched back to Prism’s side and, despite a small life lead, Brodie was on the back foot.

What I think was the defining moment of the end game happened around turn five or six. Brodie was forced to look for an arrow with a blind flip from Azalea and found an Amplifying Arrow to combine with pumps from hand. Sadly, Vespa forgot that Azalea’s ability gave the attack Dominate. He missed the opportunity window to play the Arc Light Sentinel from hand, losing an angel, a Spectral Shield, and a card from hand due to the error. Brodie converted that opportunity into game swinging tempo and, shortly after, pumped a Fatigue Shot to 11 to close out the game.

Finals – Brodie Spurlock (Azalea, Ace in the Hole) vs Pudding Tam (Katsu, the Wanderer)

I’d like to say this was a Finals comparable to the recent Pro Tour, but that would be disingenuous. As a Katsu player myself, I know that this match can go either way. It depends on whether or not Azalea manages to chain disruptive turns together. But, even that can potentially be combated with the right hands appearing for the Wanderer. No such luck for the Ninja this time though.

As the higher seed, Brodie/Azalea chose to go first and started the game with Nock the Deathwhistle into a dominated Red in the Ledger on turn zero. Pudding/Katsu took five points of damage and immediately lost any hope of establishing tempo thanks to Red in the Ledger’s on hit. On Brodie’s second turn, he presented a Remorseless for 17, with no defense reactions allowed from arsenal. With a Flic Flak in arsenal, Pudding opted to take full damage, no blocks, seemingly hoping to stage some kind of comeback in the face of such a brutal opening volley.

A natural combo line cost Katsu even more life, but Brodie had such a massive lead already that he didn’t seem concerned with it. Pudding did his best though, and he brought Brodie down to five life before Azalea firmly ended the game on turn four. Brodie Spurlock and Azalea, Ace in the Hole claimed victory at Calling: Phuket in a dominating fashion!

Final Thoughts

As a younger man, I dreamed of playing cards competitively and traveling the world someday. It really does my heart good to see a talented young player like Brodie Spurlock living that dream and playing Flesh and Blood in so many beautiful places. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of times and he’s honestly one of the most delightful people you could hope to meet. Funny enough, despite his globetrotting, this was Brodie’s first actual win at a tier three plus event. (I guess winning the Celebrational doesn’t technically count, right? Or does it? You tell me.)

Congratulations, sir. Well earned and well deserved.

Calling: Phuket was yet another event that makes me excited for the future of this amazing game.

What was your favorite moment from Calling: Phuket? Were you rooting for or against Dromai to take the trophy and the 100 LL points? Would you like to hear me and a couple of other nerds talking about all of this on our podcast? Hit me up on Twitter or Discord as Dracohominis87 and let me know!

Donnie is an enthusiastic nerd and family man who grew up playing TCGs, starting when Pokemon cards were the hottest thing on the playground. After playing Yu-gi-oh and then Magic the Gathering for years, he found Flesh and Blood in December of '22, sold all of his other pretty cardboard rectangles, and dived into FAB head first where he discovered a deep love for go-wide strategies involving the use of Ninja cards. Be Like Water is his current favorite card, because he gets to do a terrible Bruce Lee impression every time it's played. (Much to the annoyance of his brother who hears it a lot.) Donnie has been married to his lovely wife since Halloween 2008 and has two beautiful daughters that he couldn't be more proud of.